Researchers at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw, using the liquid crystal elastomer technology, originally developed in the LENS Institute in Florence, demonstrated a bioinspired micro-robot capable of mimicking caterpillar gaits in natural scale. The 15-millimeter long soft robot harvests energy from green light and is controlled by spatially modulated laser beam. Apart from travelling on flat surfaces, it can also climb slopes, squeeze through narrow slits and transport loads.
For decades scientists and engineers have been trying to build robots mimicking different modes of locomotion found in nature. Most of these designs have rigid skeletons and joints driven by electric or pneumatic actuators. In nature, however, a vast number of creatures navigate their habitats using soft bodies – earthworms, snails and larval insects can effectively move in complex environments using different strategies. Up to date, attempts to create soft robots were limited to larger scale (typically tens of centimeters), mainly due to difficulties in power management and remote control.
Liquid Crystalline Elastomers (LCEs) are smart materials that can exhibit large shape change under illumination with visible light. With the recently developed techniques, it is possible to pattern these soft materials into arbitrary three dimensional forms with a pre-defined actuation performance. The light-induced deformation allows a monolithic LCE structure to perform complex actions without numerous discrete actuators.
Researchers from the University of Warsaw with colleagues from LESN (Italy) and Cambridge (UK) have now developed a natural-scale soft caterpillar robot with an opto-mechanical liquid crystalline elastomer monolithic design. The robot body is made of a light sensitive elastomer stripe with patterned molecular alignment. By controlling the travelling deformation pattern the robot mimics different gaits of its natural relatives. It can also walk up a slope, squeeze through a slit and push objects as heavy as ten times its own mass, demonstrating its ability to perform in challenging environments and pointing at potential future applications.
– Designing soft robots calls for a completely new paradigm in their mechanics, power supply and control. We are only beginning to learn from nature and shift our design approaches towards these that emerged in natural evolution – says Piotr Wasylczyk, head of the Photonic Nanostructure Facility at the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw, Poland, who led the project. Researchers hope that rethinking materials, fabrication techniques and design strategies should open up new areas of soft robotics in micro- and millimeter length scales, including swimmers (both on-surface and underwater) and even fliers.
The Latest on: Soft robot
via Google News
The Latest on: Soft robot
- These Robot-Proof Skills Give Women an Edge in the Artificial Intelligence Era on February 19, 2019 at 9:03 pm
We could start by changing the language we use. For too long we have talked about “soft skills,” with connotations of femininity and a lack of rigor. Let’s call them what they are: “robot-proof skills ... […]
- Lobster's tough, stretchy membrane lends clue to flexible body armor, soft robotics on February 19, 2019 at 2:04 pm
WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- American and Chinese engineers have found that a soft, stretchy membrane on lobster's underbelly is as tough as industrial rubber that may lend clues to the design of f... […]
- Shape-Morphing Joints Allow These Small Robots to Ace Obstacles on February 19, 2019 at 5:50 am
That difference is narrowing thanks to those in robotics who are working on soft and adaptive robots. If the robot is reconfigurable, then it can use its same hardware for various capabilities. At Col... […]
- 3D-Printed Soft Robots Can Be Remotely Controlled on February 19, 2019 at 5:38 am
Researchers have developed a new 3D printing method and material for fabricating flexible, soft, mesh structures that can be remotely controlled, opening the door for soft robots with unique capabilit... […]
- Soft Robotics market forecast to 2024 illuminated by new report on February 18, 2019 at 1:58 am
This report focuses on the Soft Robotics in global market, especially in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, South America, Middle East and Africa. This report categorizes the market based on manu... […]
- Sensors and Machine Learning Are Giving Robots a Sixth Sense on February 17, 2019 at 7:00 am
Roboticists are faced with a dilemma: a vast, complex array of sensors for every degree of freedom in the robot’s movement, or limited skill in proprioception? The sensors allow the soft robot to reac... […]
- Facebook is trying to hire someone to work on 'legged' robots and robotic hands on February 16, 2019 at 6:04 am
The company is actively building physical robotics hardware. Similarly, Business Insider previously reported that Facebook has quietly been developing "soft robotics" — an experimental field of roboti... […]
- Watch: 3D printed ice-skating robot at World Economic Forum 2019 on February 14, 2019 at 4:24 am
Due to its design and manufacturing capabilities, the technology is also being researched in the field of soft robotics. The Skaterbot had its origin in the study called Skaterbots: Optimization ... […]
- BU Material Robotics Lab founder discusses research on making surgery less invasive on February 13, 2019 at 10:46 pm
He said he was enthusiastic about the innovative techniques that soft robotics offer. “It was fascinating to see how soft robots have the ability to totally transform surgical procedures,” he said. “A... […]
- Soft Robotic Micromachines Mechanically Stimulate Small Tissue Samples on February 12, 2019 at 12:29 pm
Researchers at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland have developed miniature soft robots that can mechanically stimulate tiny tissue samples when activated by near-infrared light. T... […]
via Bing News